Album Review of
Vingeslag (Beating Wings)

Written by Joe Ross
January 13, 2022 - 11:44am EST
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From Norway, singer Sarah Camille may be best known as a musical storyteller for kids who was awarded a noteworthy 2020 Spellemann Prize for her children’s album, Traces of Drops and Red Beaks. She also received a Cardamom Scholarship in 2021, from The Egner Family, in appreciation of the work she’s done, and to support future projects.

As a communicator, she focuses on building participation, spirit and dialogue. I listened to her latest album, 2021’s Vingeslag (Beating Wings) on a very rainy winter’s day in Oregon, and I found her singing and spoken word, whether it be in Norwegian, French or Creole, to be warm, pleasant, relaxing, charismatic and full of magic. Now targeting an adult audience, Sarah Camille has an enchanting, effervescent style with a unique sense of artistic expression.   

With haunting, new age instrumental accompaniment, Sarah Camille’s Vingeslag is a musical treatise about movement, proximity, distance, belonging and the world’s merciless waiting zones.  While no English translations are provided for the storylines or lyrics, it’s very easy to appreciate the general poetic sentiments of songs like “Videre (Further),” “Himmelen På Tvers (Heaven Across),” “Nå, for Alltid (Now, Forever),” “Venter (Waiting),” “Hjerterota (Heart Root),” and “Tårehav (Tears of Tears).” I particularly enjoyed tracks like “Dyna Di,” “Lys” and “An Ni Songé” that included masterful colorings in the minimalist soundscapes with percussionist Sidiki Camara, fiddler Selma French Bolstad, and guitarist/bassist Jørn Erik Ahlsen Alkanger, all three who also provide backup vocals.

Opening with “Videre (Further),” Sarah Camille poses several questions for us to ponder as she vocalizes in Norwegian, “Have you ever ridden around in a ring, ring three, and not known where to go next? Which way will take you home?”  Her reflections address life in a time where the slow dance around the globe is picking up speed. The flapping of wings can certainly provide flight, but they can also be used to gain a higher, and perhaps more intimate, bird’s eye perspective of the world’s conflicts, contrasts and need for collaboration and change.  At track four, “Vinger På Oss Alle (Wings On Us All)” questions our own history, motives and direction.  The positive closers, “Du Som Flyr (You Who Fly)” and “Vingeslag (Beating Wings)” seem to provide hope and optimism for a troubled world.

Only 30 years old, Sarah Camille looks for stories in the world, experiences that touch her, and she musically tells tales to create understanding, recognition and acceptance. It’s a dreamy approach that emphasizes lyrics, rhyme, melody, rhythm and ambiance to convey poignant messages. Besides singing in the Norwegian Girls' Choir, Sarah Camille has spent about a decade presenting slam poetry, a genre of original spoken words and perspectives presented directly with rhythm, character and often without music. Attending the French School in Oslo, Sarah has a connection to Martinique on her mother's side.

She once stated, “My everyday life is here in Norway, but I would love to have a parallel life where I could experience living in Martinique. I recognize myself in the rhythm and flow there, but I am still a visiting guest.” In the meantime, Vingeslag (Beating Wings) is her interpretive music of gathered thoughts and texts to document things big and moving, as well as to embrace closeness and distance, calm and movement. And with a vision that belies her age, she pulls it off with aplomb, sensitivity and balance. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)